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Lawmaker: Gov. Bush should explain role in Carnival deal

A top House Democrat released e-mails Tuesday detailing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's role in a $236-million federal contract for Carnival Cruise Lines to house Hurricane Katrina victims.

In a letter, Rep. Henry Waxman of California called on Bush to explain his role in the award of the "lucrative contract," which was given to the Florida company without a full competitive bid process. The e-mails Waxman released were provided to Congress by Michael Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A spokesman for Bush's office, Russell Schweiss, called any charges of impropriety baseless.

"The governor's involvement was merely facilitating contact with a corporate citizen of Florida that was seeking to provide immediate housing relief," Schweiss said. "Any assertion the governor had to do with any contracting negotiations or further action by FEMA is unfounded."

The Sept. 3 deal with Carnival for three full-service cruise ships - which sat half-empty for weeks in the Gulf Coast - has been criticized by lawmakers of both parties as a prime example of wasted spending in Hurricane Katrina-related contracts.